Termination of transcription by RNA polymerase II requires two distinct processes: The formation of a defined 3' end of the transcribed RNA, as well as the disengagement of RNA polymerase from its DNA template. Both processes are intimately connected and equally pivotal in the process of functional messenger RNA production. However, research in recent years has elaborated how both processes can additionally be employed to control gene expression in qualitative and quantitative ways. This review embraces these new findings and attempts to paint a broader picture of how this final step in the transcription cycle is of critical importance to many aspects of gene regulation. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: RNA polymerase II Transcript Elongation.
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